When the sun goes down on the first Friday of Coachella, an electrifying energy surges from the desert field. Shaking off the heat from the sun, festival goers reignite for the day as the grounds visually light up around them. Palm trees and art pieces glow, and crowds flow from stage to stage like moths pursuing light.
In the Gobi, a large tent lined with chandeliers, a crowd has gathered, entranced by a cube of LED screens blacked out with turquoise text that reads, “Hello… I am Whyte Fang.”
Following this introduction, the set rumbles to life, jumping from experimental bass to techno to elements of trance and drum ‘n bass. A mix of Whyte Fang originals from her recently released Genesis album make up a majority of the hour, from the wobbling “333” to the punchy “Transport God.” In a highlight moment, Brooklyn rapper Erick the Architect, one of the album’s few collaborators, joins Whyte Fang on stage for a live rendition of “SCREAM.”
A collage of visuals flirt between the futuristic and the bizarre – a swirl of swiveling robotic eyes pulse in time with the beat before transforming into a swath of glittering snakes, then butterflies, then spiders that scuttle across the screens. We see flashes of a blacklight-lit figure outlined in neon: neon embellishments glow in her hair, on her jacket, her sleeves, her pants, and most prominently, in an X on her exposed pregnant belly.
Whyte Fang never picks up the microphone to speak to the crowd, communicating only through a vocoded voice and text on the stage’s screens. Besides occasional glimpses of the neon-adorned figure at the decks, the artist is mainly represented by an illustrated head with long hair and fairy-like ears who makes several appearances throughout the show visuals. Leading up to the show, the Whyte Fang project reportedly experienced a 2,000% bump in streaming on Spotify.
While Whyte Fang may have felt the need to introduce herself at Coachella, to most, she is already well known as her alter-ego Alison Wonderland, the Australian producer who’s become a superstar of the electronic scene, playing the world’s biggest dance music festival, becoming a regular at storied venues like Colorado’s Red Rocks (where she breezily sold out two nights in a row in 2022) and scoring a pair of No. 1 LPs on Top Dance/Electronic Albums.
As Alison Wonderland, the artist born Alex Scholler also earned the title as the highest billed female DJ in Coachella’s history. Since then, she has continued to reign as a coveted headliner on festival lineups, like this month’s EDC Las Vegas, where she’s set to perform for the last time in the foreseeable future, as she is currently eight months pregnant with her first child. (The father is her longtime partner, director Ti West.)
Flash forward two weeks after Coachella, and Scholler has exchanged her neon Whyte Fang look for her more signature oversized t-shirt and sweatpants. In the comfort of her L.A. home , she sits on her couch with her fluffy black dog, Molly. Over a takeout order of veggie dumplings from Din Tai Fung (an L.A. favorite for soup dumplings and Taiwanese eats, and her latest pregnancy craving), she shares that her mom recently came to visit from Australia to see her perform at Coachella and help her prepare a room in her house for the baby, who’s set to arrive in a few weeks.
“If I drink some water, you might be able to feel some kicking,” Scholler says with a smile, chugging a gulp of water to demonstrate. At eight months pregnant, it’s a cherished moment of calm. Her past few months, however, have been anything but. Here, she shares the story of resurrecting Whyte Fang, performing while pregnant, and what the future looks like.
Whyte Fang is obviously such a fully formed concept. What is the project’s origin story?
Whyte Fang was my original production name I had been producing as before I ever released music as Alison Wonderland. I was DJing as Alison Wonderland, but the music was coming out as Whyte Fang. I really wanted to have no face. I already felt judged for how I looked and how I presented myself as Alison, and I wanted my music to be taken seriously. Whyte Fang did get some attention back in the day — it was picked up by local radio stations [in Australia] and BBC Radio 1 played me, and I was a finalist in a producer competition. Flume and I were both finalists in that competition actually, and we both lost.
Where did you take the project from there?
When I signed as Alison and started releasing music, I always wanted to eventually go back to Whyte Fang — but when I did, I wanted it to be executed exactly how I envisioned it. At the time, I just didn’t have the resources, and didn’t feel experienced enough as a producer to really reach what was in my head. I knew there was a vision and I could see it, but it didn’t feel like the right time.
It finally felt like the right time to shift my focus to Whyte Fang now — I’d done an EP and three albums as Alison Wonderland. I’m not really the face of Whyte Fang, and I’m not really the voice of it either. The music I make with Whyte Fang is darker and more industrial. It’s detached from my personal life. I do make beats like I do with Whyte Fang, even as Alison, but people who have interviewed me in the past have always said those songs sound so different, but it’s not really. Those types of songs just don’t shine because songs with me singing or that are more pop are the ones that shine with my Alison project. So I wanted to give those songs a proper home.
When did you begin focusing on Whyte Fang again?
I’d say it started in a more intense way after I released Loner [in 2022.] Most of the Genesis album was made within the last year.
So, while pregnant?
While pregnant, yes. A lot of the tracks were made while I was pregnant and I was feeling super creative. So many people told me I was going to lose my creativity and I was not going to feel the same, and I was really scared of that. Then as soon as I got pregnant, it felt the opposite.
I hadn’t felt the flow like that in a long time. I had just released an album that was so emotionally heavy, so it felt good to create stuff that was a bit more detached to my personal journey in terms of lyrics and working with other vocalists. I also love working with other vocalists, and I feel like this kind of project is where that makes sense for me.
With Whyte Fang, I just saw it. I knew the colors. I knew Whyte Fang was green and red. I knew what she looked like. I knew when she was performing, I didn’t want to be speaking. When I do the live show, she narrates occasionally. She has her own thing going on that’s greater than us humans, you know?
What went into the preparation for Coachella?
I worked with Tyler [Lamptrees], who does visuals for all my projects. He’s the only person I’ve ever worked with who visually sees what’s inside of my brain. It’s so rare to see something materialize like that when you’ve had such a strong vision. When we started working on the show around August 2020, we didn’t even have Coachella yet. My goal was to get Coachella so I could show people what this was on a bigger, not genre-specific scale. I was so fortunate to get it — but then when I found out I had Coachella, there wasn’t an album finished yet. I thought to myself, “This is what I want to do. I need to finish this body of work.” It was a kick up the butt to really get this album done. I look back and think, “How did I make an entire show and an album while pregnant?” But I did.
Were there any certain things or special accommodations you had to make to adjust to pregnancy through the process?
There were things I was supposed to do, that I didn’t… like rest. I think the best thing I actually did for my pregnancy was to keep living my life and letting the baby cook while living my life. I think it would’ve been a lot more intense for me if I had stopped.
I definitely don’t feel the same while pregnant. I was definitely exhausted at certain points, but I pushed through it because I had this vision that was so strong. If I really did feel like I needed a day off, I would take it, but I just knew this was something I had to finish.
After your Weekend 1 show, a statistic came out about Whyte Fang becoming the biggest-growing Spotify artist at Coachella in advance of their performance, with a 2,000% increase in streams on the service. Can you talk about that?
I never expected that! I was nervous no one would hear it. Every artist feels that, especially when you put a lot of effort and love into something. But this was the best surprise.
I still haven’t processed it properly. The fact that people are listening to an entire album in 2023 means so much to me as well, because I made this as an album. It wasn’t just meant for a single, it’s a journey. Genesis is a journey.
Performing while eight months pregnant with your belly out was such a powerful moment during the show.
I feel like a bad b–ch playing while eight months pregnant. It hasn’t been an easy road for me to become pregnant, so that in itself was a big achievement for me. I’m so proud that I got here. I never thought I would physically be able to become a mother. It’s so special for me, and I want to embrace it and be present in this moment as much as I can.
You shared a post recently about how early in your career, people in the industry warned you about becoming a mother and how it could affect your career.
Yeah, I was once told by someone in the music industry that I worked with that he hoped I would never become pregnant because it would ruin my career. Those words have rung so loudly in my ear, especially during these past few months.
It may have been the best thing anyone’s ever said to me, because it made me go, “well f–k you, watch this.” Being pregnant doesn’t define you, it just expands you. Literally. [Laughs.] Becoming a mother and having a family doesn’t define me. I don’t consider it a negative in any way. It’s just an add-on in my life, which is exciting and a new journey.
When I posted that on Instagram, a lot of other artists — big female artists who aren’t even in my genre — responded and said “thank you” and told me that they have also been so scared about wanting to become pregnant, thinking that it might end their career too. A lot of people I was shocked to hear from, because I didn’t even think they’d know who I was. I spoke to Grimes about it, and she was like, “Honestly, it’s punk rock.” And I agree.
You’re set to play EDC in a few weeks, which will be your last show for a while. How are you preparing?
My doctors are a little concerned about it. I’m going to be in and out for the set, and I’ll have a chair ready for me to sit on.
Everyone has been asking me if I’m sure I want to do this — and look, if I can’t because of medical reasons, I won’t fight that. I’m getting checked two days before to make sure. But I love playing music. It brings me joy, it’s not a burden. So being able to do what I love, that doesn’t feel hard to me.
Physically, it’s a lot. There will be no jumping. But again, I have an amazing team that is going to look after me, and Insomniac and EDC have always been super supportive to me and to women in general, so I know I’m in good hands. I am supposed to double in size though, so if you see a waddling bowling ball walking your way, make way.
What’s next? Maternity leave?
For Whyte Fang, I plan to tour the show and more music will come out. I’m taking a few months off and then I’ll be back for Red Rocks in October. I did have to cancel two festivals so I could take a maternity leave, but those were the only two shows I had to cancel. The festivals were incredibly understanding and obviously I look forward to making them up.
I actually found out that I was pregnant the day I played Red Rocks last year, so that will be a very poetic, full circle moment for me. I want to bring the baby to Red Rocks and be like, “This is where it all started for us!”